The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

About 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, resulting in nights of unrestful sleep. But that’s not all — every one of them is also at an increased risk for serious health problems. Even worse, as many as 80% of people with sleep apnea don’t know they have it — or how to treat it.

At Dr. Taylor’s Family Dental Center in Waterford, Michigan, Marvin Taylor, DDS, and his team help sleep apnea patients relieve their symptoms so they can enjoy restorative sleep and reduce those health risks. If you have sleep apnea, here’s why getting treatment is so critically important for your health.

Sleep apnea: Causes and symptoms

Sleep apnea can be divided into three “types.” 

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type, occurring when the tissues in your throat relax and sag into your airway, preventing you from breathing normally during sleep. OSA can interrupt your breathing dozens of times every night, typically during the deep phase of sleep. 

Central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea happens when your brain doesn’t send the signals that are required to control your breathing during sleep. Delays in these signals mean you stop breathing for brief periods throughout sleep. 

Complex sleep apnea

People with complex sleep apnea have characteristics of both OSA and central sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea tends to be more common among people who:

Many people don’t realize they have OSA because the interruptions are so slight, they don’t cause wakefulness.

Symptoms

Most people associate sleep apnea with loud snoring, but that’s a misconception. While snoring and sleep apnea often go hand-in-hand, other issues can cause snoring, too — and not everyone who has sleep apnea will develop a snoring habit.

Aside from snoring, other common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

Sleep apnea symptoms can be irritating and even interfere with your quality of life. Without treatment, sleep apnea can also cause far more serious health problems.

Medical dangers of sleep apnea

The health risks associated with sleep apnea are well documented. Like other chronic conditions, prompt treatment is the key to lowering these risks:

Cardiovascular disease

Multiple sleep interruptions put excess strain on your heart and blood vessels. That puts you at an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, along with heart attack, stroke, and arrhythmia.

Metabolic syndrome

Sleep apnea is also associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, a collection of health issues including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and belly fat. Metabolic syndrome is linked with higher risks of heart disease and other serious medical issues.

Type 2 diabetes

Untreated sleep apnea raises your risks for type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Interrupted breathing also means your kidneys receive less oxygen during sleep.

Daytime drowsiness

Being sleepy during the day isn’t just annoying. It can interfere with your performance at work or in school and cause problems with social relationships, too. Without restful sleep, you’re more likely to suffer from depression or other mood disorders, and your risk of accidents increases dramatically.

Impaired immunity

When your body doesn’t get enough restful sleep, your immune system can suffer. That means you can get sick easier with flu, colds, and other infections.

Relationship problems

If your sleep apnea causes snoring or gasping for breath, there’s a good chance your sleep partner isn’t getting a good night’s sleep, either. That’s not good for your relationship — and it’s not good for your partner’s overall health and wellness.

Reduce your risk of sleep apnea-related problems

If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea or you suspect you might have it, Dr. Taylor can help. The first step toward reducing sleep apnea-related health risks is to schedule an evaluation, so we can develop a treatment plan just for you. To schedule your visit, call the office or book an appointment online today.

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